Friday, August 31, 2007
My first ever trip to London was the summer that Lady Diana Spencer married Prince Charles and I have been fascinated with her ever since. She was only 2 1/2 years older than me, and I had a hard time wrapping my mind around someone that young taking on the responsibility of being married and becoming a member of the Royal Family. After all, my most pressing concern that summer at 16 was the crush that I had on one our tour guides, Malcolm (who looked like a Jewish Paul Macartney), listening to Duran Duran, touring England and Scotland, and trying to decide what colleges I wanted to apply too.
I watched the Royal Wedding on the telly at the home of a friend, waving my British flag in solidarity. The next day when we arrived in Edinburgh, stores already had a copy of her wedding dress in the window! I brought piles of books on the Royal Wedding and Charles and Diana.
Three years later, I was doing my semester abroad my junior year of college. No sooner had I arrived in London, then Princess Diana gave birth to Prince Harry. I skipped class one day to go to the State Opening of Parliament where I managed to get a front row viewing spot to see her arrive in one of the coaches with her hair pinned up with a tiara.
Back in the States, I still kept up with my royal watching. I eagerly bought Andrew Morton's book, although by that time, although I was still a fan, I knew that the truth of their marriage lay somewhere between He Said/She Said. I went round to Christies to see the dresses that she was auctioning off for Charity.
That final summer that she was alive, I was again in London studying acting at the Royal National Theater studio. The tabloids were full of her vacations with Dodi Fayed. I'd already had another royal encounter when Princess Margaret was sitting two rows in front of me at the Royal National, and I'd passed her by on my way out of the theater while she was waiting for her car.
I had the impression that the whole Dodi thing was just a summer fling, something to pass the time while her sons were away with her father. Who hasn't found themselves involved in a relationship they might not ordinarily have considered out of sheer loneliness? I flew back to the States the week before she was killed.
I remember vividly sitting up in bed watching Saturday Night Live with ex-sweetie pie when the news hit, and how annoyed he was with me when I switched over to CNN. It was hard for me to believe that she was dead, and that her death could have been prevented so easily (she wasn't wearing a seat belt, she didn't listen to the security concerns of the Fayed security team, she and Dodi could easily have stayed at the hotel all night).
I watched the funeral at my apartment (it started at 5 a.m. NY time and I knew that ex-sweetie pie was nto going to watch it with me). Looking at the Princes walking behind their mother's coffin, along with Prince Charles and Prince Phillip and Earl Spencer is an image that will always stay with me with.
Her image and her life still continues to fascinate people even now 10 years after her death. Magazines still sell thousands of copies if her picture is on the cover. What is it about her that still fascinates people? I think it's her vulnerability, her very humaness, her kindness and her compassion. Even though she was a princess, she still somehow seemed at once both like us, and unlike us. Not even being a princess can keep you from suffering and being bulimic.
I don't believe that there was a conspiracy to kill her to get her out of the way so that Charles could marry Camilla. There are too many variables that contradict that theory (for one, who knew that Henri Paul would have been so drunk?).
My hope is that she's finally at peace, and that she's proud of the men that her son's have become.
Thanks for reading,
Thursday, August 30, 2007
You entered: Elizabeth Kerri Mahon
There are 19 letters in your name.Those 19 letters total to 101There are 8 vowels and 11 consonants in your name.
What your first name means:
Shakespearean Female 'King Richard III' Elizabeth, Queen to King Edward IV.
Hebrew Female My God is bountiful;God of plenty. Elizabeth was mother of John the Baptist in the bible.
In England Queen Elizabeth I and II. One of the most frequently used names in England.
Greek Female From the Hebrew Elisheba, meaning either oath of God, or God is satisfaction. Famous bearer: Old Testament Elizabeth was mother of John the Baptist and one of the earliest known bearers of this name; Queen Elizabeth II.
English Female My God is bountiful;God of plenty. Elizabeth was mother of John the Baptist in the bible. In England Queen Elizabeth I and II. One of the most frequently used names in England.
Biblical Female The oath or fullness of God
Arthurian Legend Female Sister of Mark.
Your number is: 2
The characteristics of #2 are: Cooperation, adaptability, consideration of others, partnering, mediating.
The expression or destiny for #2:
A number 2 Expression gives you the tools to work very well with other people. Your destiny is in the role of the mediator and the peacemaker. In many ways you are dependent on others and seem to function best in a partnership or in some form of group activity. Modesty runs deep in your nature, and you can work comfortably without recognition of your accomplishments. Often, others get credit for your ideas, and this is of little real concern to your since you are such a willing team player. As you grow in this direction, you become sensitive to the feelings of others, you are ever diplomatic in handling complicated situations. Cooperative, courteous, and considerate, you have the capacity to become an outstanding facilitator. You know how to organize and handle people. You are a good detail person because you rarely overlook anything. Tactful and friendly, nearly everyone likes you.
The negative 2 personality can be over-sensitive and easily hurt. Too much of this number in your makeup can make you very shy and uncertain. Sometimes the excessive 2 energies makes one apathetic and somewhat indifferent to the job at hand; the ability to handle details is hampered in these cases.
Your Soul Urge number is: 5
A Soul Urge number of 5 means:
The 5 soul urge or motivation would like to follow a life of freedom, excitement, adventure and unexpected happening. The idea of travel and freedom to roam intrigues you. You are very much the adventurer at heart. Not particularly concerned about your future or about getting ahead, you can seem superficial and unmotivated.
In a positive sense, the energies of the number 5 make you very adaptable and versatile. You have a natural resourcefulness and enthusiasm that may mark you as a progressive with a good mind and active imagination. You seem to have a natural inclination to be a pace-setter. You are attracted to the unusual and the fast paced.
You may be overly restless and impatient at times. You may dislike the routine work that you are engaged in, and tend to jump from activity to activity, without ever finishing anything. You may have difficulty with responsibility. You don't want to be tied down to a relationship, and it may be hard to commit to one person.
Your Inner Dream number is: 6
An Inner Dream number of 6 means:
You dream of guiding and fostering the perfect family in the perfect home. You crave the devotion from offspring and a loving spouse. You picture yourself in the center of a successful domestic unit.
Well, I hate to say it but this is pretty accurate, particularly the impatience part. My theme song could be Queen's "I Want It All, and I want it Now" Although not the part about being restless, and not being able to commit to one person. I was in a committed relationship for over 8 years, and it certainly didn't end because I couldn't commit further.
You can try it for your self here
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
The Heir and the Spare
All of London is raving about the newly arrived American, Emilia Highhart. She has beauty, charm, wit, and a hint of the exotic.
Unfortunately, grace is decidedly not one of her virtues. Staircases, doors, even floors have proven her enemies, often leaving Emilia prostrate and mortified in a pile of muslin. Nevertheless, at her first ball, her dance card soon fills with the names of highly suitable men. But Emilia’s eyes are on just one man—the one her aunt points out as the entirely unsuitable Lord Phillip…
What made you choose romance?
I chose romance because I love the stories, and because I love the community around it. Plus, writing romance novels always makes for good cocktail party conversation.
Regency set historicals were among the first romance novels I read, based on book recommendations from my mom. I read them exclusively for my first year of romance novel reading.
I love the corsets, carriages, candlelight…but these are not particular to the Regency. What I love about that era, as opposed to other historical time periods or locations is the role society plays in the novels—the parties, the rules, and that particular regency tone and wit. I also believe that the popularity of this era is due to the fashion at the time—especially compared to say, medieval dress. Plus, I find the aristocracy fascinating, and that is such a huge part of Regencies.
The necessary suspension of disbelief regarding female shaving practices (no leg shaving or underarm shaving!).
Rather than constraints, I see such things as challenges for my imagination. For me, that is all part of the fun of writing.
What sparked this book? Was it a character? An historical event? A scene you just couldn’t get out of your head?
It all started with an idea I had for one scene: A young lady is getting ready for bed one evening when a very handsome man bursts unexpectedly into her room. She thinks confuses him for her betrothed, who is the man’s identical twin. I thought the novel would begin with this scene. And then I thought it would be in the middle and then…basically, what remained from that initial idea was twin brothers and a very confused heroine.
As for what made me actually sit down and write the book: An agent I had previously worked with said that I needed to be writing romance novels now. She said that she would have a look at something I wrote, and consider taking on the project. I told her I would have something for her in three months. I went home that afternoon and started writing…and didn’t stop until the novel was done three months later.
Usually, however, I find myself often looking up the same things: forms of address and what would be removed first-a corset or a chemise.
From history classes about that time period, I’ve realized that the world presented in historical romance novels is quite different than what actually was. I doubt any readers want certain things portrayed accurately…the men, particularly the aristocratic ones, were generally not as progressive as they are in romance novels, and it is very unlikely that real women of the era could get away with half of what romantic heroines do. That, and the drafty old houses, chamber pots, and horse manure piling up on the streets are things that I think are best left un-mentioned.
In order to be truly confused about the twins, and as open minded as she is about them, she needed to be foreign to England. As for being American, they say to write what you know, so that’s what I did.
Your hero is an identical twin. What made you decide to write about twins? Was that a conscious decision? And what did you find out was one of the problems about writing about twins?
The identical twins came out of the original scene that sparked the novel. I’ve said before that one shouldn’t write a twin novel as their first because it’s hard! The biggest challenge was having the heroine confused, but having the reader enlightened. Maintaining that often determined which POV a scene would be written in.
But identical twins provide a great opportunity to write about learning to see the person underneath external appearances. As one person remarked, one could say the same of all romances. It’s just more obvious with identical twins.
What/Who do you like to read?
For historicals, I love Loretta Chase, Eloisa James and Julia Quinn, among lots of others.
For contemporary set Romances, I love Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Jennifer Crusie. When I’m not reading romance, I read non-fiction. My current favorite non-fiction topics are economics and neuroscience. Go figure.
Care to share a bit about your writing process? Are you a pantser or a plotter? Do you write multiple drafts or clean up as you go?
d) all of the above!
I do what I call “pre-production”, and that involves some research, writing character descriptions and histories, as well as sitting around “wool gathering” about the story. By the time I sit down to write, I have a pretty good idea of the novel I’m going to create.
Generally, my writing process is the same as if I am traveling somewhere new. I write down the address of my destination. I look at the map. I print directions. And then I leave all of that at home, accidentally, and then I wing it once I am on the road. So basically, I know where I am going with a novel, and have a general idea of how I am going to get there, but I am open to detours, getting lost, etc, just so long as I get there on time.
And, golly, I wish I “cleaned up” as I went along, especially when I print out 300+ pages and then have to revise them all at once. But I don’t because I get too excited cranking out that initial draft to stop and look over it.
What are you planning to work on next?
I’m finishing up the second Negligent Chaperone book, tentatively titled Love Among The Ruined, in which the “bad” twin, Phillip Kensington, from The Heir And The Spare is the hero.
A Rake in an abbey falling in love with a woman he can’t have…A lusty nun who despises him…
There was a recent article called "Harm in reading romance novels." Do you think romance novels harm or empower women?
I firmly and truly believe that romance novels are empowering to women and to men. Frankly, I can’t think of anything more beneficial to humanity as a whole than romance novels.
I literally wrote the book (or a book) on why romance novels are not only not harmful, but empowering, inspiring, promising, and good. The book, It’s My Pleasure, co-written with my mother, examined women, religion, literature and history and found why romance novels are considered bad, and they absolutely are not.
Having said all of that—I have yet to meet someone who reads romance novels and has a poor opinion of them. When I encounter people who do disdain romance novels, I feel sorry for them and think that they clearly need more romance novels in their lives. Heck, maybe they are simply jealous of the rest of us romance readers and our lack of shame about our own pleasure.
Thank you, Maya for stopping by!
Coming up an interview with Cerridwen Press author Patt Milhailoff!
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Wow, that was one pissed off woman. Unfortunately for her, she attempted to get back at the wrong guy. Her actions interfered with an MI-5/CIA operation dealing with President Bush's visit to the UK, so the CIA scared the crap out of her by picking her up at her job, and then ransacking her apartment in front of her. The head of the London office, Christine, basically told her to get the hell out of dodge for a few days and to never darken Tom Quinn's doorstop ever again.
Wow, that sure beats nuisance calls or signing your ex-boyfriend up at various porn sites on the internet. Or getting hold of his credit card and charging hundreds of dollars, or calling up his new girlfriend pretending to be delivering the results from his STD test. Not that I've done any of that.
My way has all ways been to cry a lot, and to be incredibly reasonable when a guy breaks up with me. I think the most I ever did was just call up the guy afterward to let him know that I thought he was a shit, but that's about it.
It just goes to show you what extreme behavior some people are willing to indulge in when they've been hurt or pissed off. Thinking about this episode of MI-5, it made me wonder what a woman in the 19th century might have done if she was discarded by her lover. Would she have gone away quietly, or would she have tried to find some way to make her former lover pay? Beyond the usual trying to make his wife or bethrothed think the relationship was still on.
In Sidney Sheldon's The Other Side of Midnight, when Noelle discovers that she's been dumped by her American lover who promised to marry her, she waits until the child she is carrying can feel, and then causes herself to miscarry. Of course, the only person she ends up hurting is herself, since she can then no longer have children.
What is the most extreme thing you've ever heard of anyone doing after they've been dumped? Or what have you done after a guy has dumped you?
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Most mystery novels are written in the point of view of whoever is investigating the mystery, whether from third person point of view or third person point of view. Occasionally, in novel, you might have sections narrated in third person from the point of view of the killer. Carole Nelson Douglas used this to effect in one of her Irene Adler mysteries. Part of the reason most mystery novelists stick to one point of view is that the reader knows just as much as the protagonist does about whodunnit. Clues are revealed to the reader as they are revealed to the detective.
Well, in this novel, the point of view jumped from the first person point of view of a young doctor interested in psychoanalysis (did I mention that Freud, Jung, and Abraham Brill were characters in the novel?), to the point of view of a whole host of other characters including a young police detective, a young victim of the killer (who turned out not to be a killer), Freud, Jung, another doctor who was minor in the story, the coroner, the Mayor of New York, the mother of the victim, and the wife of another character.
That would have been enough but at one point the author switched from giving us the Stanton Younger's thoughts in the first person to telling a scene from the third person point of view, but it was still Stanton Younger who's thought's we were privy too.
After awhile all the point of view shifts from first to third to all these different characters was driving me nuts. Personally I would have preferred it, if the author had stuck to either the first person point of view or third person. As it was, the mystery portion of the novel at certain times took a back seat to the struggle over whether or not psychoanalysis would ever get a foothold in this country, which was interesting but it kept stopping the story cold.
Since I've been writing my romance novella, I've very conscious of whose head I need to be in for a scene. One rule of thumb that I've always adhered to is who has the most at stake in the scene, hero or heroine? And written my scene accordingly.
Of course there are some writers who can head hop in the middle of a scene. Nora Roberts is quite brilliant at this, but not every writer is capable of pulling it off. That's why it's great to just do a scene from one character's point of view. And then if necessary, start the next scene, with the other character's reactions to what happened in that scene.
I think it takes a lot of experience to jump back and forth between first and third person in a novel, and this writer just didn't have the skill to pull it off.
Friday, August 24, 2007
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Oh, Ted, you were the diamond of the Queer Eye Guys, the one that shined the brightest. No matter how silly Jai or Carson got, you still kept things moving along. I bought my first bottle of Chateau St. Michelle Reisling because of you, a wine I still drink today.
I had the good fortune of meeting you three years ago in London just after my birthday (it was a big one) at the Century Club on Shaftesbury Avenue. You were so polite even after I helped myself to the rest of your glass of champagne just before you were leaving. My only regret is that I didn't keep that glass and sell it on Ebay. I could have made a good sum of money. Not as much as the Barry Bonds baseball will fetch or the piece of French Toast that Justin Timberlake took a bite out of, plus close.
How I long to be invited to a dinner party at your house in Brooklyn, where you cook a lovely meal with a great entree for us non-meat eaters to enjoy. And now you're on Top Chef when Gail Simmons is not available. Thanks to the good people at Blogging Top Chef who circulated a petition to bring you back after your successful earlier appearances on the show. Plus you have a show on wine on PBS.
It's a veritable Ted Allen mania!
Oh, Ted, you complete me.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
So here are the rules for this meme:
1. You have to post these rules before you give the facts.
2. Players, you must list one fact that is somehow relevant to your life for each letter of their middle name. If you don’t have a middle name, use the middle name you would have liked to have had.
3. When you are tagged you need to write your own blog post containing your own middle name game facts.
4. At the end of your blog post, you need to choose one person for each letter of your middle name to tag. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.
Okay, now I'm stuck because I know no one blogging whose name's begin with either E, R, or I!
So I'm tagging Kelly, Megan, Patt, Maureen, and Gabrielle!
At least their names contain the letters in my middle name!
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Saturday, August 18, 2007
I went to see "Old Acquaintance" today at The Roundabout Theater here in New York. The play was written by John Van Druten, who also wrote "I Am a Camera" and premiered on Broadway back in the early 40's, and has been filmed twice. Once with Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins (really good movie) and again as Rich and Famous with Candice Bergen and Jacqueline Bisset (and a young Meg Ryan.)
It's interesting how the play depicts female friendships. Kit Markham and Millie Drake have been friends since they were girls in Harrisburg, PA. They are both writers, Millie writes what appears to be glitz and glamour novels, that sell like hotcakes. Think of Judith Krantz or Jackie Collins. And Kit writes literary fiction that wins critical raves but not much in terms of sales. Millie is divorced with a 19 year old daughter, while Kit has never married and has a lover who is ten years younger than her.
The conflict arises over Millie's daughter, Deirdre who worships Kit and has no use for her mother. Millie envies Kit for what she has, even though Millie's life is not that bad. She's rich and her novels are best sellers. But she longs for the kind of critical reception that Kit has and the relationship that she has with Deirdre. As the play goes on, we learn that Kit was once in love with Millie's husband Preston, but convinced him to stay in his marriage (there's a funny scene where Preston confesses all in an attempt to prove what a good friend Kit has been which backfires spectacularly. Only a man would think that.)
What's interesting about the play is what keeps Kit and Millie friends. Almost everyone in the play wants to know why Kit would stay friends with a woman whom it seems they treat like a joke. Kit brings up their shared history from their childhood on, and how they have a sort of shorthand that she doesn't have with anyone else.
Although the play is incredibly soapy and melodramatic, it resonated with me. How many of us have friends that we've known since we were six, that we may not see all that often, but when we do, it's like there's 30 years of history in the room. Friendships between women are powerful things and when they end, it's like breaking up with a boyfriend. In some ways, it's evne worse, because you share things with your girlfriends in a way that you don't with the men in your lives.
Watching Kit and Millie tear in to each other, (Millie reveals that she nows about Preston and Kit, accusing her of having had an affair with him for years, and Kit accuses her of not knowing how to be a friend) releasing years of resentment, I had flashbacks to friends that I've had in my life. Just recently, I ended a friendship with someone who tore into me for what she perceived as my failings as a friend, because she didn't feel that I had been there for her. In that one instant, the past several years of friendship, all the times that I had been there for her, seemed to mean nothing compared to this one occasion. She simply trashed the relationship despite my apology.
One of the most telling moments in the play for me, and one that the playwright seemed to gloss over after bringing it up, was when Kit talked about her relationship with Deirdre, and how she resolved from the time she was born to make Deirdre love her. I'm not sure if that came out of her love for Preston but it explained so much. I would have loved to seen her admit to Millie that in a certain way, she wanted Deirdre to love her more than her own mother.
There was also the question of professional jealously. Despite Kit's closet disdain for Millie's novels, you know she longs to have both the critical acclaim and the money, while it kills Millie that her books may sell, but a highbrow publisher like Mallory won't touch her with a ten foot pole. How many of us have had a little schadenfreude when we've seen friends sell before us, or read books that we feel aren't as well written as ours, but they've been published? But there was no Amazon.com for people to vent on.
In the end, the two friends make up in that way that friends do, where you just sort of sweep the unpleasantness under the rug, and you go on, because not having them in your life would be worse, than having them. In the back of my mind, I wondered if Millie would ever really be able to forgive Kit for falling in love with her husband. That seems to be the kind of thing that usually ends a friendship (I once had a friend end our friendship just on the suspicion that I wanted her ex-boyfriend. I didn't.).
Or maybe Kit and Millie realize that in the long run, men may come and men may go, but a true friend (someone who will lovingly criticize your manuscript and make it better, who loves you for better and for worse) is more important.
Friday, August 17, 2007
This is the second time that someone has gotten the details wrong. I once took a walking tour of the Bowery and got into an argument with the tour guide when he wrongly described what went on that night. He got all huffy and went on about studying for his PhD in history at Columbia. Well, I had 3 years of theater history in college, and as I reminded him there was currently an exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York on the riots. Not to mention a very fine play called Two Shakespearean Actors by Richard Nelson.
So what were the Astor Place Riots? And why is the event in history so significant? The Astor Place Riots was not just about the rivalry between two famous actors of the era, Edwin Forrest and William Charles Macready. It was also American vs. English, middle class vs. the Upper Classes. It was one of the deadliest civil disturbances pitting the poor against the upper classes in the United States until the Draft Riots in 1863 (also in New York).
A little background on the rivalry between Macready and Edwin Forrest. Forrest was born in Philadelphia in 1802, and was the first American superstar as it were in the theater. He acted with Edmund Kean who was a huge English theater star of the time. Forrest was noted for his muscular frame and impassioned delivery which was considered suitably "American" by his fans.
He acted at the Princess's theatre in London were he met with great success, but when he attempted Macbeth, a character that seemed unsuited to style of acting, the audience hissed the performance. Forrest attributed the hissing to the professional jealousy and machinations of Macready, although Macready had been kind and helpful to him when he first to London.
A few weeks later, Macready was playing Hamlet in Edinburgh. Forrest, who was attending the performance, stood up in a private box and hissed at him (not very mature!). This act evoked contemptuous reproaches from the British press and destroyed the respect he had garnered on his trip. An acrimonious letter that he printed in the " Times" aggravated, instead of justifying, his offence.
A portion of the American public believed that national jealousy and professional intrigue had interfered with the success of their favorite tragedian in England.
In May of 1849, William Charles Macready arrived in New York to perform Macbeth at the Astor Place Opera house, which was the Opera house for the middle class and rich as opposed to the Bowery Opera House down the block, which catered mostly to a working class audience, and whose lead actor was of course, who else, Edwin Forrest. In fact, the Astor Place Opera House had been built specifically so that the wealthier citizens of New York didn't have to mingl with people they felt were beneath them. The new theater had high ticket prices (the better to keep the hoi polloi out), and a dress code.
To fan the flames, the Bowery theater decided to offer Edwin Forrest playing Macbeth on the same nights as Macready. Macready seemed to be a symbol to the working people and the Irish immigrants of everything that they hated. He was English and a snob, two things guaranteed not to get him a warm reception from anyone apart from the upper classes who were anglophiles despite our independence from the motherland.
On May 7, 1849, an unruly mob hissed and interrupted the Macready's performance including pelting the poor actor with rotten eggs, potatoes, old shoes and a bottle of liquid which may have been something called asafetida, which stank. Macready, being a trooper, finished the performance, but had to be persuaded to finish the rest of the run. He was promised that order would be maintained. The only way to keep that promise was to call out the militia and the calvary. On May 10th, he took the stage again.
That day, over 20,000 people apparently filled the streets around the theater after working class and Irish leaders called for a protest demonstration saying the performance and the troops that were sent to protect Macready represented "English aristocracy" trying to oppress the "people." As the performance began, a crowd of 10,000 which included native and Irish gangs like the Bowery Boys and the Dead Rabbits (In Gangs of New York they walked around with dead rabbits on sticks when they fought) threw stones through the windows.
The New York Tribune reported, "As one window after another As one window after another cracked, the pieces of bricks and paving stones rattled in on the terraces and lobbies, the confusion increased, till the Opera House resembled a fortress besieged by an invading army rather than a place meant for the peaceful amusement of civilized community."
The police force couldn't stop the rioters so the National Guard from the Seventh Regiment, was called in. Most of the rioters didn't disperse even as the soldiers assumed the firing position. To the surprise of many, even among the soldiers, the order was quickly given to fire directly into the crowd, leaving 22 dead and another 38 injured. The next day a protest crowd circulated a petition calling for revenge against the soldiers who had fired, but cooler heads managed to prevail, and the worst was over.
As for our two protagonists, Macready went back to England and retired two years later in 1851. He later died in 1873. He left behind a widow and 3 children. Forrest weathered a scandal when he divorced his wife in 1852 which hurt his reputation, but he continued to perform until his retirement in 1871. In his later years, he lobbied for the rights of smaller theaters against the monopoly of powerful conglomerated theater companies. He also used his considerable wealth to create an home for retired actors called the Forrest Home which lasted for over 100 years until it was eventuallly incorporated into the much larger Actors Fund facility in New Jersey. He's one of the few actors besides the other Edwin (Booth) who are still remembered today.
Thanks for reading,
Thursday, August 16, 2007
It's a Grade I listed castle whatever that means. It comes with 59 acres of parkland, grassland and woodland. It also boasts an orangery, two cottages, and a ruined chapel. It was on sale for a cool 5 MM (around $10MM) pounds until one Nicolas Coppola Cage bought it recently for 4.5MM pounds. Yes, that Nicolas Cage, star of Ghost Rider and National Treasure, the man who named his son after Superman. Who used to be a good actor back in the days when he made Leaving Las Vegas.
Apparently, he has 14 homes worth at least $66MM including a 28 room fortress that he bought in Bavaria called Castle Neidstein in Germany. I have no idea why, although he's said that he would like move a castle brick by brick across the pond. Hopefully he'll change his mind about that. It would be like when they moved the old London Bridge over to Arizona.
It must be nice to own a historic castle, but I'm unlikely to ever know that unless I win Megamillions. Although I would adore staying in one.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
I haven't been there so I have no idea what it's like, but the website www.dickensworld.com has video where you can see the place being built. Apparently, it features Europe's largest themed boat ride which transports visitors from the depths of London's sewers through the atmospheric streets, courtyeards, marekts and shops, to a magical flight across the roof tops of London. There's also a haunted house, where the ghosts from The Christmas Carol will haunt, and children can playi in Fagin's Den.
I'm not sure how I feel about a Dickens theme park. It seems somehow cheesy and tacky. But again I haven't seen it. It could turn out to be something like Colonial Williamsburg or more along the lines of England land, and France land at Epcot.
Would anyone visit say Fenimore Cooper World? or Louisa May Alcott World?
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Capturing the Friedman was directed by Andrew Jarecki who made millions from his creation of Moviefone. The background to the film is that he'd heard about this clown that was pretty popular in New York with birthday parties and he wanted to find out I guess what makes a person choose a career as a clown.
It turned out that the clown was a man by the name of David Friedman. As Andrew Jarecki started working on the film, he learned that David Friedman's father and brother had been accused of multiple counts of child molestation on Long Island in the late 1980's. Instead of focusing the film on David Friedman, Andrew decided to make the story of the Friedman's the focus of his movie.
He was aided by the fact that David Friedman and his brothers had taken copious 8MM films during their childhood. David Friedman has also filmed the family during the time that the Arnold Friedman and the youngest son, Jesse were accused and awaited trial.
I can't tell you how painful this movie was too watch. Just listening to the contradictory stories from the police, the family, some of the kids who were part of the computer classes that Arnold Friedman ran out of his home who claimed that no abuse took place, to the kids (now adults) who claimed that they were sexually abused, was harsh.
The simple facts of the case are this, Arnold Friedman was receiving child pornography from the Netherlands in the mail, which raised a red flag. After he was arrested for having child pornography, the police automatically made the assumption that since he was teaching kids, he must be molesting them. From there, Arnold's son Jesse, who helped out with the classes, and another teenager were accused of sexually abusing minors.
Here's where it gets fuzzy. Several of the children were clearly coerced into their testimonies, the other defendant was given the option of testifying against the Friedman's or going to jail for 50 years, and the stories of the children who claimed to be sexually abused, didn't match the stories of other students who were in the classes at the same time. Also, Arnold Friedman had also given piano lessons for years in his home, but none of those kids ever came forward as adults when the case made headlines to claim that they were abused. Of course, there could be a reason for that. The shame at having a trusted teacher molest you, not wanting even after several years to come forward.
The video footage that David Friedman took of his family during the time they were awaiting the trial is stomach churning, particularly the way the sons treat their mother, almost as if she were the enemy. The truth was that their mother, once she knew her husband had been looking at child pornography, had a hard time defending him. The sons wholeheartedly believed their father was innocent, and took her actions as a betrayal. But it was clear that this family was seriously dysfunctional.
At times, it almost seemed as if the footage had been staged, it was so theatrical. Both father and son eventually pleaded guilty for different reasons. Once Arnold Friedman admitted that he was a pedophile (although he claimed he had never touched his students), the chances of him being acquitted were slim. He eventually died in prison, and there is reason to believe that he committed suicide. He left an insurance policy to Jesse Friedman, probably so that Jesse would have money to mount an appeal once he got out of prison.
Jesse served 13 years, and now he claims that he only pled guilty on the advice of his attorney, and he wants his conviction appealed, for I guess getting bad advice. The middle son Seth didn't participate in the documentary, having basically fled the family to make a life for himself out West.
What's interesting about the documentary is that Andrew Jarecki doesn't take sides one way or the other during the film. He just lets the story unfold so that the audience can make up their own minds whether or not they believe in the Friedmans' innocence for which he's gotten a certain amount of flack.
I actually found it refreshing that he didn't take the Michael Moore approach, basically hammering the viewer over the head with his viewpoint. Still, the cops, the DA, and the judge in the trial feel that they have been misrepresented in the film, because Jarecki does raise questions about the way evidence was collected, and whether or not the children were led into confessing.
The DVD has more footage and extras that I haven't yet seen, but I kind of want to, although I'm not sure that I can sit through the movie again. I feel for Arnold Friedman's wife, learning that the man that you've been married to for over 20 years is a pedophile couldn't have been easy. What the film did do was let the viewer know that pedophiles aren't necessarily men in raincoats who hang around playgrounds. I remember when the movie Happiness came out, people were upset because the pedophile in that film seemed on the surface to be an ordinary suburban husband and dad. He wasn't a weird creep like the Jackie Earle Hailey character in Little Children.
That movie and this documentary just goes to show that everyone is not always what they seem on the surface. And who do you believe? Children who may have been led into confessing to something that didn't happen, or a man who is an admitted pedophile?
Friday, August 10, 2007
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
LOL! You have to read this! Even if you haven't seen the movie, but especially if you have!
Monday, August 06, 2007
I had planned on focusing my blog this week on writing, but I'm kind of still upset today about a certain matter, and I'm torn about whether or not I should blog about it. It concerns author etiquette. So in the meantime I thought I would blog about something that makes me happy and that's Anthony Bourdain. Although I don't watch his show on the Travel Channel "No Reservations" since my freind Marley told me that he stalked and barbecued a zebra on a recent episode.
Ah Chef Bourdain, even though you despise vegetarians or vegequarians like myself, I still can't quit you. Your funny and slightly nasty blog posts on Bravo TV in place of Tom Colicchio the past few weeks has made my day. I particularly loved your recent blog on Rocco DiSpirito and the recent frozen food challenge. Even though I disagree totally with your disdain for the challenge, I did love your comments about the contestants and the big lug Rocco himself.
I hope they bring you back as a guest judge, and I think that they should give you your own blog on Bravotv.com. Who needs to hear from Marcel or Sam for that matter (Just kidding Sam, I still love you)? Your wealth of experience and knowledge should be shared with as many people as possible.
You are a man who is not afraid to speak his mind, but you are also intelligent, and funny as heck. And you've traveled enough and have such a vast food knowledge that it's hard to argue with you, although when Howie threw your own words back at you, you were man enough not to pound him. You are a man who is passionate about food, so I've even forgiven you for dating Page Six columnist Paula Froelich. Clearly even a great man like yourself can make mistakes.
Ah Chef Bourdain, I would love to cook a delicious vegetarian meal for you so that you would see that vegetarian food doesn't mean bland or boring. Or check out the Green Zebra in Chicago if you don't believe me.
Anyway, you are still tops with me, and my number 1 dinner guest at my fantasy dinner party.
Friday, August 03, 2007
What does this have to with relationships (the theme of this week?). Well, it started me thinking about this book that I had read in high school that came out in the early 60's, called The Harrad Experiment by Robert Rimmer. It's about a college where all the students learn about sexuality and free love. I had seen the movie on HBO (starring a very young Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith, in fact it's the movie where they first met and fell in love), and was curious to read the book.
The man who wrote the book, Robert Rimmer, wrote it as a criticism of the assumption of monogamy as a societal norm. All the characters in his books discover that they're much happier in arrangements such as the one on "Big Love" or "polyamorous" relationships. At first it sounds all warm and fuzzy, this idea of 'free love' but of course it doesn't take into account human emotions, and the fact that people have a tendency to get attached, even when they're trying not too.
Personally I think it's bunk. Not that it probably doesn't work for some people, but it would never work for me. I was never good as a child at sharing my toys, and I would definitely never be good at sharing a man with not just one woman, but a bunch of them. I sucked at even dating more than one person at a time.
And I definitely get attached to people, to places, to things. I'm the worst person in the world to ever be in harem or in a commune. Unless, I'm running things like being the chief wife (the Kadin) or the head of the commune.
I remember watching a nature special on lions, where the poor male lion had to service entire pride of female lions, to the point that the poor thing looked like he needed the animal version of Viagra. In the end, I just think it sounds like a lot more work than just dealing with two people in a relationship.
I think that's why I read romance, because it's about the journey of one man, and one woman towards finding love and a relationship that's fulfiling. Not that it's going to be one happy long yellow brick road of happiness. The conflict doesn't end just because the hero and heroine declare their love and their desire to be together. We know when we put down the book that there will be bumps in the road ahead, but we believe in the power of their love (to quote the only Celine Dion song that I like) to overcome whatever obstacles might come into their path.
Thanks for reading,
Thursday, August 02, 2007
P.S. I scammed these from an astrology book that I have in my library. They're incredibly funny. I don't think these have ever actually worked on me, but hey give it a try!
- Look sexy at all times, but not in a glaringly obvious way (um, what does this mean exactly?)
- Keep your body in good shape (but you don't have to be sick about it, otherwise you'll give me a complex)
- Just happen to have a water bed being delivered next week (I hate water beds)
- Learn to be a night person - Scorpio comes even more alive then (okay this one is totally true. I was always up for going out drinking after performing, often until the wee hours of the morning which was hell when you had to be at work at 8 a.m.)
- Keep Mr. or Ms. Scorpio guessing all the time - curiousity might have killed the cat but it kindles Scorpio's interest (well this one is true as well, I do like a mystery, and since I've been called an engima myself, of course I would be intrigued by someone who isn't an open book)
- Start practising telepathy and astound your Scorpio with your psychic impressions of their personality (now this one depends. If you're obnoxious about it, I'm going to cut you down to size. Of course it would help if I didn't have to explain everything all the time, my man just knew).
- Practise the smoldering eye routine yourself so you can have fun outstaring each other.
- Ever show you could be a jealous lover (okay, a little jealously is fine, it's when it becomes psychotic, I'm talking you Paolo on Footballer's Wives, than it becomes a problem)
- Be too intense or dramatic - this only allowed if you're another Scorpio (there can only be one drama Queen in this relationship and it's me)
- Fight this sign - it's the most invincible of all. (You'll never win. I can out argue, and out stubborn anyone)
- Ever question Scorpio's loyalty - you'll soon learn how strong it is. (I'm loyal to the point of stupidity, need help, a baby sitter, a kidney? I'm your girl)
- Get yourself involved unless you're unafraid of passion, power, and possibly intrique too (No wimps need apply!)
- Ever forget Scorpio has a need for privacy at times (translation, I need my own bathroom)
Those are all great, but if you really want to know what works? Dark chocolate and lots of it (I prefer Leonidas or Neuchatel, Godiva only in a pinch), champagne (Veuve Cliquot, or Perrier Jouet Rose), and sushi. No roses unless you cut them straight from the garden. Foot rubs and massages are also appreciated further down the line. And shoes, lots of shoes, but more important, just treat me like the Queen that I am, and we'll get along fine!
Thanks for reading,
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
So on to Abby's Pop Meme. I've been tagged by Megan so here are the rules:
1. Go to this link at Pop Culture Madness (scroll down - see the list of years on the left?)
2. Pick the year you turned 18
3. Pick five songs from that year
4. Wax nostalgic about each song and why it’s special
5. Pass it on to 5 more friends
"Don't You Want Me" by Human League - I first heard this over the summer while I was in London and I bought the 45 while I was there (remember 45's?). I thought I was so sophisticated playing my new music from England, and I felt justified when it was a huge hit here in the States. Plus who can't relate to the song?
"Tainted Love" - Soft Cell - I love, love this song. In fact, I have it on my iPod. I used to play this all the time because it reminded me of my ex-boyfriend. I also remember dancing to it at the danceathon that we had at school to raise money for Vietnam Vets. We danced for 5 hours in the cafeteria. The rules were you had to dance even on your way to the bathroom. Once inside of course you could stop dancing, but once you were done, you had to start dancing again. This song was great, because you didn't have to move to much to it.
"We Got the Beat" - Still my favorite Go-Go's song. How can you not dance to this song? Another song that I have on my iPod. I loved the fact that they were an all girl band that played their own instruments, instead of just the chick who fronted the band. A guy I went to high school with thought their song "Our Lips are sealed" was really "I love Cecile."
"Rock this Town" - Stray Cats - Remember them? Before Brian Setzer became a new wave Big Band singer? I had no idea what rockabilly was when this song came out, I just knew that I could do the jive to it like my parents. Although I thought all 3 of them were too skinny and skanky to be believed.
"Maneater" - I used to have a crush on Daryl Hall of Hall & Oates (come on, the guy had great hair, like a golden retriever.) And I always wanted to be considered a woman that was a maneater. I have no idea why but being a femme fatale appealed to me (see Monday's post).
Okay, I am now tagging, Mary, Kelly, Gabrielle, Patt, and Carolyn.
Thanks for reading,